Wellington Scoop

Don’t delay the Transmission Gully motorway, says the mayor of Porirua

Press Release – Porirua City Council
Porirua City Mayor Nick Leggett is asking the government to ring-fence the “economically critical” Transmission Gully project before undertaking any review of national infrastructure priorities in light of the Christchurch rebuilding.

Mayor Leggett has written to Transport Minister Stephen Joyce urging him to decisively quash rumours that Transmission Gully may be delayed or partially defunded in order to direct resources to the rebuilding effort in Canterbury.

“Every New Zealander supports the government’s determination to rebuild Christchurch and alleviate the many burdens that confront the victims of the horrific quake. I am seeking your assurance that the government will not discard other key economic priorities in the process. In the Wellington region, the entire airport-Levin arterial plan is the highest priority of all.”

The Mayor also reiterated to the Minister the importance of Transmission Gully in providing a much needed alternative access out of the Wellington region and the regional resilience that this builds.

“Part of the route is a particularly important gateway to Wellington, Hutt Valley and Porirua and would be crucial in the event of a major disaster and key to improved access during a recovery.”

He singled out the proposed Petone to Grenada link, expected to cost $250 million, as a project that could be deferred.

“The Petone-Grenada link is neither as urgent nor as economically critical as Transmission Gully. The link from SH1 to the Hutt Valley can be adequately covered on the current SH58 at Haywards, which could be enhanced at a much lower cost. The deferral or cancellation of this project would be a far preferable target for cost-cutting as the Government seeks ways to divert funds to Christchurch.”

And on March 8
Press release from Wellington Chamber of Commerce
Rebuilding Christchurch is rightly the government’s top priority but the government should think carefully before diverting money away from crucial infrastructure projects such as Transmission Gully according to the Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce.

“We are disappointed to see local government politicians in Wellington using the earthquake as an excuse to rethink Wellington’s transport priorities,” said Chamber CEO Ken Harris.

Government expenditure which is able to boost economic growth in the country as a whole should not be sacrificed in the process of rebuilding Christchurch. Infrastructure projects such as Transmission Gully come under this category.

“There are better examples of low-quality government expenditure which should be cut so that funds can be diverted to Christchurch.

“The Christchurch earthquake also underlines the importance of Transmission Gully to Wellington because it shows how important access to and from the city would be after a natural disaster.

“There is much Wellington can and should do to help Christchurch at this time but cool heads and sensible decisions are needed,” Mr Harris concluded.


  1. Maximus, 9. March 2011, 9:03

    On the other hand, not everyone agrees with Leggett. I couldn’t think of a more unimportant and unsupported waste of money than Transmission Gully. I’ve been saying it for years, and going to say it again:
    Not. Going. To. Happen.
    and for back reading

  2. Tony, 9. March 2011, 10:19

    Maximus . . . you are correct that there are some who disagree with this proposal. However, history shows that when the coastal route was proposed under the Western Corridor Study it was overwhelmingly REJECTED by submitters . . . with the majority support from Wellington City submissions (I was one) being crucial in the eventual confirmation of the Transmission Gully route.

    Your eyeofthefish articles focuses on the cost benefit ratio of this option (over an “improved” coastal route) but this is just one part of evaluation framework. A key factor that the cost benefit ratio does not include is the benefit from having a third road out of Wellington to reduce the reliance on fixing the current vulnerable SH1 (along the coast) and SH2 (over the Rumatakas . . . this road can be closed by snow and high winds!).

    Improved access in and out of Wellington following an earthquake may or may not be a logical reason for people to support Transmission Gully (you can quite rightly point out The Gully will also probably be blocked and opinions differ on how quickly it will be to clear). But, following the Christchurch earthquake, public opinion will be even more firmly behind building this route than it was before.

    I know I will not think it a waste of money building Transmission Gully if it eventually saves lives. I will be cursing opponents to hell if it is stopped and we then have more deaths and heartbreak when the big one strikes here.

  3. Maximus, 10. March 2011, 0:22

    Tony, thank you for your reasoned reply. It’s good to see that someone is thinking logically. However, I still maintain that it’s a simple matter of economics. Things like roads are funded on the basis of the cost benefit ratio, and governments have worked out that lives are worth X amount etc, so if they can save Y amount, then it is worth doing.

    Overall, NZTA will only give approval for a roading project if the cost to benefit ratio is within a reasonable ratio. It’s something like 2:1 for any normal project. From memory, Transmission Gully was something like 6:1 ie wildly beyond any rational spend.

    I can’t remember the exact figures, but let’s get this straight: the proposal for Transmission Gully fell SO FAR out of reach of the normal figures, that it meant it was financially unfeasible, and probably was only agreed upon because Peter Dunne, Minister for Ohariu Valley, was sticking his political foot in. It would have to rely upon massive input of money from both local and central government. Unfortunately, neither central nor local government have anything even remotely like the money needed for this project. That’s why I keep trying to drum into people’s heads: it just will never happen.

    We (NZ in general, and Wellington region in particular) can simply not afford to do it. If there were 2 million people living in Wellington, then the figures would change. But we are a small city, with only a population of 200-400,000 in the city/region, and we just can’t afford to spend that much on a road that has no payback.

    On another matter, the route of the road will still rely upon people driving up Ngauranga Gorge, and then driving along the direct route of an earthquake fault line. Why do you think there is a nice big deep rift across the country at that point? Because it is an earthquake faultline of course! Geologically massively unstable land!

    Rather than spending $1.2 billion (or, likely, far more), on a road to get out of the city in the case of an earthquake that has destroyed the city, do you not think that it would make far more sense to spend some of that money on our buildings and our infrastructure here in Wellington, so that we can survive the quake and not have to evacuate at all?

    If we have 600 buildings in Wellington that are at risk of an earthquake, with $1.2 billion we can afford to spend a whopping $2million on every single one of those buildings ! Food for thought?

    Hope that helps… cheers, Max